Review: BGEAH and BrANCH Postgraduate and Early Career Conference 2018

Institute of Historical Research

Overall, the conference demonstrated the value of bringing together members of BGEAH and BrANCH. Concerns about postdoctoral funding and the job market were shared by all, and the range of research discussed highlighted the growing shift away from periodisation within the study of American History. The day provided an opportunity not only for PGRS and ECRs to meet members of another organisation with similar interests, but also to draw on their expertise to enhance their own research. Continue reading

Book Review: Irish Nationalists in America by David Brundage

David Brundage, Irish Nationalists in America: The Politics of Exile, 1798-1998 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016). pp.312. $36.95. £26.49. Irish Nationalists in America provides a thorough survey of centuries of Irish nationalist politics, distinctions in the Irish diaspora, and transnational cooperation. It is a valuable contribution to scholarship on the … Continue reading

Review: ‘The “Not Yet” of the Nineteenth-Century U.S.’, BrANCA Symposium

University of Exeter

Primarily literary in focus, the panellists nevertheless marshalled current political and institutional debates through and alongside their readings of texts, demonstrating the ways in which nineteenth-century U.S. scholarship often hinges on interdisciplinary methodologies. Continue reading

Review: ‘The “Not Yet” of the Nineteenth-Century U.S.’, British Association of Nineteenth Century Americanists Symposium

University of Exeter

Alert to forms of belatedness and anachronism, and attuned to the variously apocalyptic and utopian temporalities of the era, this timely conference on untimeliness suggested that the future is bright for BrANCA and for the field. Continue reading

Book Review: The Saltwater Frontier by Andrew Lipman

The State of the Discipline Series: Part I

Most historical accounts of the colonisation of New England focus on  territorial claims made on certain swathes of land between the Hudson River and Cape Cod. Not so Andrew Lipman. Unequivocal in his rejection of ‘surf and turf’ histories, in The Saltwater Frontier Lipman argues that by focusing on the ocean itself as a paradigm of shifting territories, his book offers ‘a new way of thinking about Indian history and a new way of understanding this all-too-familiar region’. Continue reading

Book Review: An American Genocide by Benjamin Madley

In ‘An American Genocide’, Benjamin Madley analyses the devastating demographic decline of California Indians. California’s Native American population declined from about 150,000 people to 30,000 in the period 1846-1873. Madley draws heavily on the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. As he explains, this convention provides a powerful analytical tool to help scholars explain what happened to California’s indigenous people. Continue reading

“Exceptional Zombie Cannibals” – Antonia Bird’s ‘Ravenous’ (1999) and the discourse of American exceptionalism

In the last couple of decades, a conflict has emerged between the perception of exceptionalist rhetoric as a historical symbol of American patriotism and the much more harrowing visions pervading the present-day political stage. For a historian of the antebellum era, such as myself, “American exceptionalism” is synonymic with a post-War of Independence period when America rapidly transformed from a remote and largely unexplored land mass into a force to be reckoned with in the world arena (as noted by non-American observers at the time such as Alex De Tocqueville). Continue reading

Edward S. Morse: A look at Meiji Japan

Using primary sources from ‘Meiji Japan' - an Adam Matthew collection

From 1633 until 1853, the military governments of Japan enforced a policy of sakoku or ‘closed country’ which prevented foreigners from entering Japan on penalty of death, and prohibited Japanese citizens from leaving. This isolationist period was brought to an abrupt end in July 1853 when American Commodore Matthew Perry steamed four warships into Tokyo bay and threatened to open fire unless the Japanese agreed to enter into trade negotiations. Continue reading

Nantucket as a Summer Holiday Destination

Using primary sources from ‘Leisure, Travel and Mass Culture - The History of Tourism' - an Adam Matthew collection

The small spit of land off the coast of Massachusetts which maps refer to as ‘Nantucket’ was called the ‘far away land’ by its first settlers, the Wampanoag Nation. Nowadays, this small island, which at just under 273 km squared is smaller than Malta or the Maldives, is easy to reach by long-distances bus and the ‘Cape Flyer’, by high-speed ferry or by commercial airline. Continue reading